Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute explores ag careers

Lukas Fricke
CASNR alum Lukas Fricke speaks to 2017 NAYI delegates about swine production. (Photo: @UNL_CASNR on Twitter)

July 12, 2017

Lincoln, Neb. — This week the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute is being held at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. This event has been put on for over 40 years and helps youth explore careers in agriculture.

This year 186 students are participating in NAYI. The students have just completed their junior or senior year in high school, some coming from rural backgrounds and others who grew up in the city with no agricultural background. The program is designed to expose students to the different types of agriculture and the many career options available.

Throughout the week, participants learn about crop production, animal production and different types of entrepreneurship. Lukas Fricke, an alum of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, spoke to the group about swine production. Thomas Kayton, a junior agricultural economics major, talked about his company TractorMat, which uses reverse 3D engineering to make custom-fitted mats for a variety of farming equipment. Different families are also on hand at NAYI to discuss their farms and ranches, including a pumpkin patch and a bison ranch.

At the end of the week, the students will have the opportunity to give their preference of different degree options like education, communication, agronomy or animal science.

“NAYI is so important because it really helps kids open their eyes to different careers in agriculture,” says Maggie Louthan, a senior agricultural education major and a NAYI head counselor. “Just because you didn’t grow up with an agriculture background or if you don’t want to go out farming every day, you can choose a field outside of agriculture and still have an impact on this industry because everything is connected.”

The NAYI council is made up of 21 college-age men and women who work to teach youth about agriculture. Every year a new team is chosen to serve a one-year term. Throughout the year, the NAYI council participates in several different agricultural programs like the Governor’s Ag Conference, elementary classroom visits, National Ag Week, Urban Youth Farm Tour, the Nebraska State FFA Convention, as well as its premier event, the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute. These events give the council members an opportunity to learn more about agricultural events happening in Nebraska.

The council’s goal is to keep Nebraskans involved and interested in agriculture and it is an ever-changing program. It keeps pace with today’s agriculture to educate Nebraskans and keep young people from leaving the farms and ranches of Nebraska.

To learn more about NAYI, visit

Maggie Louthan
Head Counselor
Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute

Writer: Gina Incontro - IANR Media

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